For many couples, choosing the perfect photographer can be one of the most important parts to planning a wedding. After all, this person will be permanently capturing a vision of your love, your union, and your individual story; so it’s important that you find the right person to help you tell it your way.
But with so many options available it can be difficult to know where to start. To shed some expert light on the matter, I’m delighted to share this open and honest insight from Charlotte of Charlotte Eve Photography. Here, she gives her recommendations on all the personal and practical things to consider when it comes to your wedding photography, and how to choose the right photographer to capture it all.
Photographs courtesy of Charlotte Eve Photography
So Charlotte, let’s face it. Choosing a wedding photographer is a big decision. In your experience, can you advise on the best way for a couple to get started?
- My first tip would be to look at other people’s wedding photographs
With so many amazing photographers out there and so much online, it can often be quite overwhelming for couples to know where to begin. If you’re not sure, I always say check out a friend or family member’s wedding photographs as a starting point. Consider what you like, what you don’t like, and how you want your photographs to feel – and start to make your own wish list.
- Really get to know your own style
Whether you prefer light, bright and airy photographs, or perhaps something a bit more moody and sultry, your preferred style often indicates the kind of wedding photographer you might be looking for. Of course there are many other styles, but it’s about getting a feel for what resonates with you the most. This could also be indicated by your venue or the time of year that you’re getting married. For example a bright white marquee in the middle of summer will naturally photo quite differently to a winter wedding set in a traditional castle adorned with fairy lights.
And knowing what type or format of photography you prefer will also have a huge impact on selecting the right photographer for you. You might be having a large, formal or cultural wedding, where grouped family photographs matter most. So you may end up leaning towards a slightly more traditional photographer. You may on the other hand be looking for something a little more artistic and quirky – fitting of a high fashion magazine. So a contemporary style photographer could be right for you. Or you may simply prefer to wander off for a quiet stroll and a chat, and let things unfold naturally with a documentary style (or reportage) photographer capturing it all discretely from the side lines – with nothing posed or forced. It could even be a bit of a mix – such as largely documentary style with a few traditional family shots.
After creating an initial wish list, are there any practical elements that a couple should consider?
- Think about what you want to capture
It’s important to consider your priorities and roughly what, and how much you want to capture on the day. You may be planning a quiet or shorter wedding and might only want a few hours of intimate shots. But if perhaps you’re planning a larger wedding and you want 15-20+ group shots, plus couple and guest shots, this is when you might talk to your photographer about the possibility of a second shooter joining them for the day. The time of year is an important factor to consider too. Summer weddings, with plenty of natural light late into the evening, can open up more options for spreading out different shots over the course of the day. Whereas winter weddings offer a much smaller window of opportunity. All of this will determine what level of service you require, and ultimately who will be right for the job.
- Consider location and travel
An increasing number of wedding photographers are now working all over the country as standard, which can really help to widen your search net. Some may even include nationwide travel within the price they charge. But there will however be some photographers who are regionally based only, or who may charge a little extra for additional travel. Also one to consider, is whether there’ll be any local travelling required on the day i.e. from a church or registry office to your reception venue. These are all things to confirm and clarify with your photographer.
- Does this photographer fit your budget?
Every photographer will be priced slightly differently, largely reflecting variations in packages and specialisms. However, I’d say that if you think you’ve found your perfect photographer, but the price is slightly higher than you’d budgeted for, then perhaps consider looking at the possibility of a half day or reduced hours package. A full day package can cover anywhere from 10-14 hours, whereas a half day package often covers around 6 hours – which might be everything you need at a more affordable rate. Even if it’s not advertised, it’s still worth asking. Some photographers may even offer seasonal deals, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on their website and social media pages.
So what’s the best way for a couple to start engaging with potential photographers, and what are the next things they should they weigh up?
- Get to know their work and their clients
At this stage you’ve probably got a shortlist of a few photographers that feel like a good fit. I’d really recommend getting to know them. Take a closer look at their website and browse not only their portfolio but their testimonials too – and get a feel for what their clients have to say about them. Don’t forget to follow them on all their social media platforms too – and I’m sure you’ll soon start to see suggestions of other photographers you might like too!
- Just reach out for a chat
Once you’re ready, just get in touch for an informal chat to find out whether they’re free on your date; whether that’s via email, phone, or even Instagram or Facebook message. If they’re not free, then most photographers can often recommend another photographer who works in a similar style to them. Just ask!
- Confirm that your photographer can meet your wish list and priorities
Perhaps in a follow-up conversation, it’s worth running your style ideas, venue and practical considerations past your potential photographer to confirm that they can deliver them. Most photographers will happily reassure you of their style and approach, and talk openly with you about how your day is likely to unfold.
- Do you feel comfortable with your photographer?
I’d always recommend having at least one phone call, if not a video call or face-to-face meeting with your potential photographer. This is so that you can really get a feel for their personality, and whether you’re comfortable with them. After all, this person will likely be with you all day, from hair and make-up right through to your first dance – so you need to be happy with them being around.
- Check what’s included and required
It’s always important to check what your photographer includes as standard within their packages. How many hours are covered? Is travel included? How will your images be supplied? Is there an album included or is this an extra cost? When is the deposit and balance due?
Some packages also include an engagement or pre-wedding shoot – but equally some photographers provide this as an additional service. This can be a great way of testing how you feel in front of the camera, and helping you to relax on the day. It’s also the perfect opportunity for you to get to know your photographer. The shoot location could be where you got engaged, or somewhere special to you, or maybe even at your venue if possible. This could be especially useful if your venue is new to your photographer, or if the access is tricky. Or perhaps it might even be a non-traditional venue, field, or piece of land being specially converted for the day. Your photographer will be able to pre-asses the best photo opportunities and where the light is at different times of the day. However if this isn’t possible, your photographer is always likely to arrive nice and early on your wedding day to check it out.
Does it matter how many weddings a photographer has shot?
This is a tricky one, and every situation will be different. Being able to browse a photographer’s wedding portfolio has to be the best way for you to get a feel for whether you like their style. And yes, you could argue that the more weddings a photographer has shot, the more expertise they may have in knowing how to handle every single aspect of your day – including changing lighting situations and unexpected challenges.
However, just because a photographer hasn’t shot many weddings, it could be the case that they are transitioning into the wedding industry from years of experience in a different photographic area. So as long as you like their images, you might just need the reassurance that they can run your day. A riskier one to judge is a new photographer with a limited portfolio and reviews. I’d be wary of booking up without seeing any portfolio work at all, but if they can show you some example shots that you like the look and feel of, and you’re happy with their professional communication and that they’ve considered all aspects of your day, then why not. You may just snap up an introductory offer here too!
What if the wedding isn’t fully booked yet? Can a couple still secure their photographer?
It’s absolutely fine to reach out even if nothing is planned yet. As long as you can confirm a date and a rough location (i.e. Northumberland), then most photographers will be more than happy to take your booking. Even if you haven’t got your venue secured yet, your photographer is there to guide and accommodate your day, however it unfolds.
Overall, I’d say the most important thing is that your chosen photographer is right for you – that they can help to capture the feeling and essence of your day, and that you will enjoy looking back over your pictures and reminiscing for years to come.
About Charlotte Eve Photography
Hi, I’m Charlotte Eve, a professional photographer specialising in relaxed, creative and fun wedding and portrait photography. I work across both North Yorkshire and North Hamptonshire, but I cover the whole of the UK – wherever my camera takes me really. I work in a relaxed way, creatively capturing photos that I hope preserve precious moments forever. Couples often comment about how calm I am, and that this really helped them relax on their wedding day! I love people watching, and this is just what I’m doing behind the camera – quietly capturing families and friends coming together, and of course capturing all those smiles, laughter and tears of happiness too! Feel free to explore more over at charlotteevephotography.com, or say hello on Instagram @charlotteevephotography.
Thanks a lot Charlotte! I know that your advice will help many couples who are currently looking for their perfect wedding photographer.
Of course, for any couples needing any extra help to handle the whole process, our bespoke wedding planning services are also available to support you throughout any stage of your journey.